For many, the only way to survive and thrive in New York City (or any other, for that matter) is to leave every opportunity you can get. Whether that’s a day at the beach or a weekend getaway in the woods, the restorative benefits of emerging oneself in nature are scientifically proven.
What’s also proven is the internet’s unquenchable thirst for prefab architecture, tiny homes, and affordable modern cabins. Lucky for you, there’s New York-based DEN Outdoors, a retailer of cabin plans, maker of cabin kits, and now, a literal builder of cabins, too.
Based in the Hudson Valley a few hours north of NYC, DEN is a rooted design practice that launched with a series of boxy cabin plans in 2020 and now offers a catalog of over 30 architecturally-inspired designs ranging from A-frames and modern homes to outbuildings like a stylish sauna and garage. Aspiring homeowners can purchase these designs as digital architectural plan packages and hand them over to a project manager (or themselves) to bring the structure to life, for a process that's easier and more affordable than hiring a traditional firm. But if that wasn't enough, the startup is now taking its offerings one step further with the newly launched construction service BuiltBy DEN.
As a solution to customer feedback and desperate FAQs regarding the often confusing home-building process, the program now offers customers full-service project management, including guidance in navigating land-purchasing to permit acquisition for an exclusive set of designs. In short, DEN can now build a DEN for you.
So, whether you're a DIY customer looking to buy plans and be on your way, or an aspiring homeowner that doesn't know where to start, DEN now offers services for the full spectrum of cabin-lovers. The below guide dives deeper into DEN's various plans, and the ins-and-out of the BuiltBy DEN program, so you can decide what's best for your needs, and your dreams.
Buying Cabin Plans & Kits
Though DEN's previous business model allowed for customers to choose from cabin plans, DIY cabin kits, and full-service on-site production, for the last couple of years, the company has been focused largely on simply offering inspired plans designed with affordability and ease of construction in mind. That said, in late 2020 the brand released a 10' x 10' A-Frame Cabin Kit that reportedly can be assembled in just a weekend. The kit comes with everything one would need, sans tools and a willing group of friends.
Now, with 30 basic home designs available as digital packages for $199 up to $4,195, including outbuildings, eight backyard office designs, and a contentious garage, DEN is out to offer something for everyone. Highlights include a 168-sq-ft A-Frame bunkhouse, two bed, two-bath barn house, and a proper 3-bedroom full family Eastern Farmhouse. There's plenty to choose from but for us, the weekender A-Frame house is pretty dang enticing, with an entire wall of windows and 14-foot ceilings.
The aforementioned prices get you a detailed set of house plans that any skilled builder can bring to life—and most any country planning committee can approve. DEN offers the designs as a "Starter Package" or "Complete Package". The former, priced at $199 across all designs, includes basic PDF floorplans and construction blueprints, which are ideal for determining a project's feasibility, cost, and comparing designs to find your match.
The latter, which DEN makes easy to upgrade to, includes editable CAD drawings, a 3D model, structural details, and more—aka, the nitty gritty documentation needed to make the structure come to life. Depending on the DEN design, a Complete Package can run anywhere from the $1,000 Shed Tiny House Plan to the largest $4,200 Barndominium plan.
Keep in mind, these prices do not include the cost of land, nor consider site preparation, furnishings, or the cost of bribing your friends to help you build. Good news is, DEN does offer a series of educational guides on the company's website designed to give land and homeowners insight into the process of building a cabin of their own. The guides range from how to shop for and buy land, to a comprehensive guide on what to look for in a set of plans.
But if this is all sounding a bit overwhelming, that's where BuiltBy DEN comes in.
Building with BuiltBy DEN
Navigating a new build is often overwhelming for even the most experienced real-estate mogul, let alone aspiring cabin-lovers who just want to chill. With BuiltBy DEN, the company hopes to provide internal services that will make the whole process as stress-free as possible, so customers can spend less time fretting about a DEN, and more time actually in it.
With it's seed funding bringing in $3 million dollars, BuiltBy DEN is both an online and IRL project management service purchased through a few clicks of the mouse. The BuiltBy services include everything from land, financing, and permitting guidance to construction and invoice management, as well as an actual project manager through the DEN team. Typically, these services would be outsourced to a network of local builders, but BuiltBy DEN also comes with access to pre-vetted vendors, materials, and other resources. Trust us, this makes things a whole lot easier.
At the moment BuiltBy services are only available for an exclusive set of DEN cabins, optimized for quality, budget, and timeline. The highly specified plans, paired with DEN's contractors, guarantee the homes are built flawlessly on a tight schedule, although certain modifications are welcome.
For now, these models range from a 500-square-foot BuiltBY ADU, to the BuiltBy 3.3 at 1,900 square feet. The price of the models include the comprehensive BuiltBy services, and range from $200,000 to $700,000, excluding the cost of land or materials.
The cabins themselves reflect DEN's signature modern style. In line with contemporary cabin design, the homes are sleek and geometric, with vaulted ceilings, solid wood siding, a standing seam metal roof, and plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows. Each model includes at least one full bedroom and bath, a full kitchen, living space, a laundry room with a washer and dryer, and air-conditioned attic.
The cabins are designed to be On-Grid, although a wood-stove option is available for the traditionalists, and each comes equipped with a spacious deck that runs the length of the structure.
So if you're new to home ownership, or just a little lost with it all, BuiltBy DEN is a useful, modern service that streamlines the whole process, whether you plan to live in your new home full-time or rent it as a guest house. For now, the services are only available in DEN's home turf of the Hudson Valley and Catskills, although the company hopes to expand into other regions soon.
BuiltBy DEN services are now live and can be booked through the company's online portal.
With every detail highly considered, from bathroom fixtures and suggested materials to wood stoves and skylights, DEN's minimalist cabins offer a distinctly elevated approach to backcountry living not often shown by most online cabin providers. Now, cabin connoisseurs and experienced builders alike can choose from a wide variety of designs and services to match their needs.
DEN has identified and addressed many of the hold-ups in the modern-day housing industry to the best of their ability, hopefully making it easier for all of us to build and own a cabin one day, and of course, get outside.